Ntsika Ngwanga. Picture: Supplied

Ntsika Ngxanga first came to the attention of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as the lead composer of a capella group, The Soil.

They played at the CTIJF in 2014 and again in 2018. 

Though Ntsika (he uses his first name as a stage name) studied Chemical Engineering at Vaal University of Technology, music was always a big part of his life and he could no longer ignore the calling when he and several of his friends formed The Soil in 2003. The core members of the group, Ntsika’s biological brother Luphindo Ngxanga, Buhlebendalo Mda and Theo Matshoba kept on going and the foursome signed their first record deal with Native Records in 2010.

By the time they played the CTIJF in 2014 they were a trio (the Ngxanga brothers and Mda) though they constantly refer to God as their fourth band members. 

Ntsika recently announced he was going solo, though that doesn’t mean The Soil has necessarily broken up.

At the beginning of March this year he released his debut solo album, I Write What I Dream, on his own record label, Nomadic Tribe. 

He has gone on record saying he had to make this solo album because he kept on dreaming about his grandfather. In the dreams the two would be alone and he would hear songs in the background. He wrote these songs down and produced a 14 track album with the help of, amongst others, Afro Soul singer Vusi Nova and the Lion of Juda hitmaker, gospel singer Lebo Sekgobela.

Ntsika has not only been working with The Soil over the past few years, but also been bitten by the theatre bug.

I Write What I Dream was also the name of a musical theatre show he put on at the Joburg Theatre last year, which saw him talk on stage to actress Sthandiwe Kgoroge about the impetus and journey of the various songs which eventually made it onto the album.

He composed and directed music for Standard Bank Young Artist for Drama 2009 Ntshieng Mokgoro’s plays Memories and Empty Spaces (2017) and Distant Faces (2014) as well as for cast-devised play BAPA (Market Theatre, 2018). He didn’t just create a soundtrack, the music was integral in each of these plays to furthering the audience’s understanding of the characters’ emotions.

As a writer he has worked on not only The Soil’s album’s but also written works for artist such as Vusi Nova, Baobab Sisters and Musa Sekwene.

Ntsika was also an original cast member in the Makhaola Ndebele-directed Gibson Kente Musical Tribute (Market Theatre, 2017/8) and of the Bra Hugh Music Tribute at the Joburg Theatre (2018).

In addition to co-producing The Soil’s albums (The Soil, 2011; Nostalgic Moments (2014); and Echoes of Kofifi, 2016), Ntsika has also produced Soulphitown’s eponymous album which will be released later this year and Khonaye’s album, Gardens of Songs (released in 2016 on Nomadic Tribe).

Ntsika will perform on Saturday 30 March at the CTIJF.